Rose Bushes – Shrub Roses

Rose Bushes – Shrub Roses

No rose garden of any size is really complete without some shrub roses, and they are particularly valuable in large gardens. The name is somewhat misleading since botanically speaking all roses are shrubs. The modern types known as shrub roses are mainly hybrids and cultivars of the old species of roses. They make splendid garden shrubs in their own right, and have always been much admired, not only by horticulturists but also by artists.

Rose Bushes - 'Mme Plantier' Shrub Rose

Older shrub roses

I will begin with the white roses derived from Rosa alba because I have long and happy nostalgic memories of them and because they have many virtues. They are hardy, vigorous, and long-lived, as they have been for three centuries. They have lovely greyish foliage, and a refreshing scent.

Rosa alba maxima, 2.4 m (8 ft), the Great Double White or Jacobite rose. A shrub of great vigour which grows well all over the United Kingdom. It is useful for north-facing walls as well as in a large border. The beautiful creamy white flowers have just a hint of buffin the petal folds. It flowers freely in June but is not recurrent.

R. alba semi-plena. Even more vigorous than R. alba maxima, it is generally considered to be the original white rose of the House of York. The semi-double white flowers are freely borne in clusters and have good hips in autumn.


The following are a few of the many fine decorative varieties of shrub roses:

‘Celeste’ (also known as ‘Celestial’). A shrub of considerable vigour up to 2 m (6 ft) in height and width. It is particularly attractive when the flowers are opening, and is a great favourite with admirers of old roses. The delicacy of its clear-pink flowers combines perfectly with the grey-green foliage. It is sometimes called the Minden rose.

‘Felicite Parmentier’. Reaches to about 1.2 m (4 ft) but is of less-upright habit than others in this group. The rich cream tone of the buds vanishes as they open to exquisite flowers of blush pink. When fully open the flowers are beautifully set off by the grey-green leaves.

‘Great Maiden’s Blush’, 1.5 m (5 ft). Ranks high among shrub roses. It has been a familiar sight in cottage gardens for several hundred years and is especially attractive as an informal hedge. The attractively scented blush-pink flowers fade at the edges as they open but retain this colour at the centre. The grey-green leaves are a perfect foil to the exquisite colour of the blooms.

‘Konigin von Danemark’ (Queen of Denmark). A popular shrub of medium vigour which can reach I.8 m (6 ft); it originated as a seedling from ‘Great Maiden’s Blush’. The double flowers are vivid cerise-pink when half open and reflex to a soft, warm pink. The blooms show a button centre, are fragrant, and are offset by lead-grey foliage.

‘Mme Legras de St Germain’, 1.8 m (6 ft). An R. alba hybrid with fully double, glistening white blooms with a rich-cream centre. The vigorous growths are almost thornless and have pale green leaves.

‘Mme Plantier’. Possibly of R. alba parentage, although sometimes regarded as a noisette rose (a type established originally by the crossing of China and Western species by the French nurseryman Philippe Noisette). It generally grows as a sprawling bush 1.2 m (4 ft) in height and width. The dainty foliage can hardly be seen when the very double, flat, creamy white flowers are in their full glory. These show a green button centre and have a rich, sweet fragrance which carries freely in the air.

10. March 2011 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Roses | Tags: , , | Comments Off on Rose Bushes – Shrub Roses


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